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February 22, 1971

What Is A Lemming?

JAMA. 1971;215(8):1317. doi:10.1001/jama.1971.03180210061013

Elsewhere in this issue (p 1326) is published a communication that purports to offer solutions for some of the problems of our environment. Although it is against the policy of The Journal to publish anonymous letters, the use of a pseudonym is permitted when the author of a letter is as well known to the editors as in this case. The author is also known to be a foremost physiciancrusader for ecological betterment and undoubtedly offered his foolish problem-solving to nettle some of The Journal's readers into joining his advocacy.

The linkage of the essay by Davis1 with the idea of creating a lemming-like tendency in mankind probably was inspired by a recent article by Calhoun.2 The latter, after describing the circumstances (overpopulation) that explain the periodic death marches of Lemmus lemmus, notes that similar migrations of North American grey squirrels have been recorded since 1750. He